Art & Incarceration: A Panel Discussion

Stephen Tourlentes, Wyoming State Death House Prison, Rawlins, Wyoming, 2000
Courtesy the artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston

Most prisons and jails across the United States do not allow prisoners to have access to cameras. At a moment when 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the US, 3.8 million people are on probation, and 870,000 former prisoners are on parole, how can images tell the story of mass incarceration when the imprisoned don’t have control over their own representation? How can photographs visualize a reality that disproportionately affects people of color, and, for many, remains outside of view?

Lucas Foglia, Vanessa and Lauren watering, GreenHouse Program, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York

This exhibition coincides with the publication of “Prison Nation,” Aperture magazine’s spring issue organized with the scholar Nicole R. Fleetwood, an expert on art’s relation to incarceration. Addressing the unique role photography plays in creating a visual record of a national crisis, this exhibition and issue are accompanied by a series of six public programs—featuring speakers such as Nigel Poor, Aliya Hana Hussain, Keith Calhoun, Chandra McCormich, Jamel Shabazz, Deborah Luster, Bruce Jackson, Shani Jamila, Jesse Krimes, Sable Elyse Smith, Joseph Rodriguez, and more—all to take place at Aperture Foundation’s gallery.

Photographer unknown, Prison Rock Band, June 26, 1975. Courtesy Nigel Poor, San Quentin Archive and Haines Gallery, San Francisco

Panel Discussion: Art & Incarceration

Deborah Luster, Layla “Roach” Roberts (Inquisitor), fromthe series Passion Play, 2012–13. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

How does incarceration impact art making for incarcerated artists and non-incarcerated artists concerned with the criminal justice system? This panel brings together a range of artists and figures who facilitate art projects with incarcerated individuals. This discussion is moderated by Nicole R. Fleetwood, contributing guest editor of Aperture’s “Prison Nation” magazine with Panelists – Jesse Krimes, artist and activist, Aliya Hana Hussain of Center for Constitutional Rights, an attorney who represents detainees/artists at Guantanamo Bay and Joseph Rodriguez, photographer.

Join the Discussion

Wednesday, February 28 at 7pm
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th Street New York, NY

During our Digital Diaspora Family Reunion roadshow (DDFR) at Yale University, we encountered Yale alum and entrepreneur Akintunde Ahmad who shared the experience of his older brother being incarcerated. Seeing his brother sent to prison didn’t stop his family continuing to support and love his brother. Check out what he had to say below:

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